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KWL goes 2-1 at tourney, takes fifth

Kimball/White Lake’s Brooklyn Donald looks for a teammate to pass the ball to while being guarded by Lemmon’s Kodee Bolte during the fifth-place game of the Class B state girls’ basketball tournament on Saturday at Huron Arena. (Mike Carroll/Huron Plainsman)

HURON - Kimball/White Lake forced three turnovers and hit 4 of 6 free throws over the last minute to edge Lemmon 46-41 Saturday to take fifth place at the Class B state girls’ basketball tournament.

“We talk about how defense is going to win a game and it makes us as good as we are,” KWL coach Tacey Nielsen said. “We can step up and shut teams down like that in the closing parts of the game.”

The fourth quarter saw eight second-chance points, which turned out to be the difference in the game, for the No. 6 WiLdKats.

“Brooklyn Donald, a freshman, came in and played that whole fourth quarter. She had one job and that’s to get a rebound and she came up huge in there for a few possessions,” Nielsen said.

The first half was a defensive game on both sides. KWL, which led 18-16 at halftime, was held to 25 percent shooting, while Lemmon fared slightly better at 28 percent.

The No. 5 Cowgirls gained momentum in the second half and jumped to their biggest lead of the game at 27-22 with 4:22 left in the third quarter on a basket by Bailie Beer.

Lemmon had its last lead at 42-41 with 1:50 to play on a three-point basket by senior Julia Blue Arm - her only three-point basket of the her career.This came moments after Blue Arm hit a 3-pointer which didn’t count because Cowgirl coach Sara Gebhart called a timeout.

Jazmyn Hinker led the WiLdKats with 14 points and was an all-tournament selection. Kelli Steffen added 11 points for KWL (17-8), which was 15-of-45 for 33 percent from the field and 15-of-21 for 71 percent from the free-throw line. The WiLdKats grabbed 33 rebounds and committed 10 turnovers.

Gebhart said KWL’s ability to close out a game flustered her players near the end.

“We just kind of ran out of steam and didn’t make good decisions like we usually do,” Gebhart said of her team’s last minute. “I have to give them credit. They are a quick little team and they get after it on defense.”

Blue Arm scored 11 points to lead the Cowgirls, while Jenna Van Beek pulled down nine rebounds.

Lemmon (23-3) was 17-of-50 for 34 percent from the floor and 5-of-9 for 56 percent from the free-throw line. The Cowgirls pulled down 35 rebounds and committed 15 turnovers.

The WiLdKats earned their first trip to the state tournament since their co-op, finishing 2-1 over the weekend.